TextbooksIn an effort to lessen the cost of higher education for WSU students, Interim President Bernardo has convened a task force to address the rising costs of course materials. Students, faculty and staff will explore open source options and other alternatives to exceptionally high-priced textbooks, clickers, and other learning resources. An initial report will be submitted to the co-provosts by May 15, with additional follow up planned for next fall as needed.

In the meantime, all faculty can assist students by doing the following:

  • Turn in textbook requests for the fall semester to the Bookie as early as possible, which enables the Bookie to buy back more used books to sell at a discount when the fall semester begins.
  • Place course materials on reserve, which can help students access materials on time even if they have not yet been able to purchase their own due to financial or availability constraints.

We have appreciated the recent proposal for a course materials reduction initiative submitted to us by the Associated Students of WSU. These students have performed valuable background research and have raised valid points about the rising costs of course materials.  We know that initiatives have been underway at some of our campuses and among many of our faculty, and we look forward to discovering what an integrated effort can produce.

The issue goes beyond saving students money. When students avoid purchasing expensive textbooks, and if alternatives are not available, their academic performance can suffer. A study by the Public Interest Research Group in 2014 found that 65 percent of students had skipped buying or renting a textbook because it was too expensive, even though 94 percent of those students felt doing so would hurt their grade in the course.

The WSU Library offers a limited number of textbooks in the WSU Library Reserves, and the Department of Academic Outreach and Innovation provides training, tutorials and material to help faculty access open learning resources. The Open Course Library (opencourselibrary.org) is being used by community colleges across Washington and includes resources for 81 courses.

We will share more information as solutions develop and invite you to contribute ideas to the task force. Together we must, and will, find ways to reduce barriers that compromise our students’ success.

If you have questions, comments, or feedback on this post, or other matters concerning the Office of the Provost, please email them to provost.social@wsu.edu.